NYCFC pleased with effort in friendly

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

PURCHASE, N.Y. – The stars made their cameos and the reserves got their minutes for New York City FC Friday night in Mexico.

Though City lost the friendly to Club Necaxa, head coach Patrick Vieira said he was happy with how the trip worked out.

“It’s always good to go to Mexico to play these type of games because it shows us the level that we want to be,” Vieira said. “It was a tough game and we played some really good players. It’s a different type of football than what we get used to in the U.S. Going there and playing games once awhile, that can show us some parts of our game that we need to improve.”

Vieira said he was pleased with how his players performed, even though many were playing their first meaningful minutes in months. Though the lack of playing time showed during some sloppy phases, Vieira said his players worked hard and kept a high tempo of play throughout the match. Mikey Lopez started and played at right back for the first time, impressing Vieira who said he may consider Lopez in that role. Mix Diskerud played in center midfield and left wing for 82 minutes. Vieira said he was happy with how Diskerud overcame some rough moments during the match.

“I wanted him as a left winger to come a little bit more inside, he stayed too much on the wing,” Vieira said. “I wanted him to play inside and to be a little closer to our number nine. I think there was a lack of communication there but it’s my responsibility, it’s my fault.

“I was happy with the way he didn’t give up after going through a difficult period. In any player, when you put them in that situation with the tempo and the quality of the team we played. I was expecting them to go through a difficult period and that was the case. I was happy that he worked hard and he didn’t put his head down.”

Kyle Parker, a guest player from the Wilmington Hammerheads came on for Diskerud and scored City’s only goal. Vieira said Parker’s finish off the inside of the far post was ‘pure’ and well-taken. Khiry Shelton was one of the young players Vieira said he wanted to give playing time to so they could remain fresh and match fit for the rest of the season.

“It was an experience for me,” Shelton said. “I’ve never done something like that. I got to see a different side of football and that’s what you want as a player, as a young player I want to learn. To see the way they played, how they moved the ball and do the things they do, it’s lovely and I really enjoyed it.”

Eirik Johansen played his first match in goal since June and was forced into making several saves. Johansen has yet to make his league debut and likely won’t this season. However, Vieira said Johansen’s performance Friday night reflected his growth.

“I think the performance that he had just showed how he’s been training in the last few months,” Vieira said. “Eirik has been doing really well and conducting himself as a real professional. He’s been working really hard and I’m really pleased with the way he played. I think he was fantastic and it’s good because it’s putting more pressure on Josh, challenging Josh and that’s what I want.”